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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

#Rescue116 - A lifejacket and helmet washed up on a beach near Blacksod in Co Mayo this weekend may belong to one of the two missing crew from the Rescue 116 tragedy earlier this year, as RTÉ News reports.

The items, which were attached together, were discovered on the shore near An Clochar yesterday morning (Saturday 30 September).

A detailed search of the area has been hampered by poor weather, with no other items found.

Winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith have been missing since the Irish Coast Guard helicopter went down at the island of Black Rock, west of Blacksod, on 14 March.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered at the scene but was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after. The body of Capt Mark Duffy was recovered some days later.

Elsewhere, the body of a middle-aged man was found washed up on Inis Meáin in Galway Bay last night.

RTÉ News says the discovery comes almost a fortnight to the day after a Russian national was swept into the water while sea angling near Doonbeg, some 36km south of the Aran Islands.

There was better news for the families of two fishermen feared missing in Galway Bay overnight, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Aran Islands RNLI and the Shannon-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 115 were involved in the search last night and early this morning for the pair when they were reported overdue.

But the search was called off around 10.30am when the small fishing boat, which has suffered technical issues in “challenging” conditions, returned to port under its own power.

Rescue 115 was earlier requested for a medevac from Inis Mór to University Hospital Galway.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - The Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 conducted a medevac for a passenger on board the cruise liner Marco Polo this morning (Wednesday 27 September).

Malin Rescue Coordination Centre received an early morning request from the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), who requested the Irish Coast Guard to assume coordination of the operation.

The rendezvous with the ship took place around 190 miles west of Erris Head shortly before 8.30am. Rescue 118 was expected to arrive with the casualty at University Hospital Galway before midday.

An Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft was made available to provide communications and surveillance back up, known as ‘top cover’ but had to be redeployed to conduct two separate patient transfers to UK on foot of a request from the National Ambulance Service. This role was reassigned to the Dublin-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 116.

Weather conditions at the time were described as reasonable.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds has paid tribute to the lives lost in the Rescue 116 and Kilkee tragedies ahead of his return from secondment in Somalia.

“The Coast Guard has lost five colleagues to accident and one, Daithi O’Cearbhallain, to cancer. I’ve lost six good friends,” said Reynolds, according to The Irish Sun.

“Not being at home and with my team in the Coast Guard has been very, very difficult,” he added.

“My first intention on my return in October is to visit our volunteer teams, co-ordination centres and helicopter bases to listen and understand how we will move forward.”

Reynolds was seconded to Somalia in July 2016 as part of an EU maritime security mission in the Horn of Africa.

Two months after his departure, coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

Six months later, Rescue 116 crashed at Black Rock in Co Mayo, claiming the lives of its four crew. Capt Dara Fitzpatrick and Capt Mark Duffy were recovered, but the bodies of winch men Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith were not found.

Published in Coastguard

#Missing - The search continued today (Tuesday 19 September) for a sea angler who was swept into the sea from a popular but treacherous fishing spot near Doonbeg in Co Clare at the weekend.

According to TheJournal.ie, the missing man and a friend, both Russian nationals, had been fishing at Pulleen Bay around 6.30am on Saturday morning (16 September) when he went into the water.

When his friend’s attempt at a rescue was unsuccessful, he is believed to have panicked and driven 60km way to Limerick to raise the alarm.

“This has happened in the past in Clare where non-Irish nationals fishing in very dangerous areas, who have little English or no English … panic and have driven miles upon miles, passed Garda stations and people on the road to raise the alarm,” said local journalist Pat Flynn.

Naval Service divers and local diving clubs have joined a number of Irish Coast Guard units from the area in the search, which has been hampered by poor visibility due to heavy coastal fog.

Meanwhile, as the Clare Herald reports, coastguard search teams expressed their dismay over the weekend as several groups of anglers continued to climb out to the rocky head where the missing man was swept away.

Published in News Update

#MCIB - An official investigation into the death of coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas remains ongoing, as the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) confirms.

Lucas, a volunteer for the Irish Coast Guard’s Doolin unit, died on 12 September 2016 during a search operation for a missing person in Kilkee, when the RIB in which she and two other volunteers were travelling capsized in a heavy swell.

The MCIB’s interim report outlines the details of the day in question. Investigators’ analysis, conclusions and recommendations will be reserved for the final report.

Published in MCIB

#Coastguard - The Irish Coast Guard crew winching two teenagers from the sea when one fell from her harness had never lifted two casualties at the same time before, as BreakingNews.ie reports.

Aoife Winterlich, 14, was one of four teenagers who had been swept into the sea off Hook Head during an outing for venture scouts on 6 December 2015.

Two managed to swim ashore but Winterlich got into difficulty in heavy seas. The fourth, a 15-year-old boy, attempted to keep her afloat until rescue arrived minutes later.

It was when Rescue 117’s crew attempted to transfer the pair into the helicopter that Winterlich slipped from her strop some 45 feet back into the water.

Records show that the winchman was back in the water to retrieve Winterlich within moments, and that she was in the helicopter just over a minute after.

The inquest into Winterlich’s death this week heard that she died from lack of oxygen to the brain resulting from near drowning, and that there was no evidence of contributing physical trauma.

Prof Maureen O’Sullivan of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, who conducted the post-mortem, said the fall was unlikely to have contributed to Winterlich’s death, according to RTÉ News.

The inquest also heard that the coastguard helicopter’s winchman and winch operator had never performed a lift of more than one casualty in a single lift.

Winch operator Neville Murphy told Dublin Coroner’s Court the situation that led his college Sean Jennings to descend with two winch strops was “unprecedented”.

“Two people in the water, that generally doesn’t happen,” he said. “We can only train to certain limits. We can never know what we are faced with as we look out the door of the aircraft.”

Earlier this year, the Air Accident Investigation Unit report into the incident concluded there was “nothing to suggest that the winchman’s decision-making was anything other than sound”.

The inquest is adjourned till October. BreakingNews.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard helicopter crews will no longer be expected to fly inter-hospital transfers from this week, according to The Irish Times.

It’s understood that the move by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) to withdraw coastguard helicopters from night-time air ambulance cover is rooted in its unhappiness with the situation that saw 24-hour SAR pilots doing double duty for patient transfer.

The coastguard’s fleet of Sikorsky S-92 helicopters was first trialled as a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) network almost four years ago.

But HEMS rules which limit missions to pilots on 12-hour shifts with 12-hour breaks between shifts will apply from tomorrow (Tuesday 5 September).

Such overnight missions will now be taken on for the next four weeks by the Air Corps, already the primary provider of air transfers for the National Ambulance Service, using fixed-wing aircraft.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue - Two divers were rescued yesterday afternoon (Sunday 20 August) after they failed to surface during a dive off Dalkey Island.

The dive boat cox alerted the Irish Coast Guard by marine VHF and began a search patter procedure as Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard’s four search units, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat and the coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 were all tasked to the scene.

The lifeboat and helicopter backed up the dive boat and coastguard search of the coast from Coliemore Harbour to Killiney Beach, a distance of some 15km.

Within minutes, coastguard members searching off Whiterock spotted the divers being pushed towards the coast with the tide and wind as weather conditions worsened.

All vessels were alerted, and the dive boat recovered the two divers, who were said to be in good spirits despite their ordeal.

In a second callout yesterday, Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard volunteers were tasked to assist a 17ft boat with engine failure being towed to Dun Laoghaire Harbour by lifeboat. All aboard were reported in good condition.

Published in Rescue

#Rescue - Drone owners will be mindful of where they fly their devices after a woman was stranded on a cliff face in Killiney while trying to recover one of the mini aircraft.

Dublin MRCC received a 112 call on Tuesday (15 August) from a father whose daughter was stuck on the cliff at Whiterock, after she had attempted to retrieve the drone he had been test flying before it crash landed.

Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard were deployed to the scene along with the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116. A request was also extended to the Greystones Coast Guard Cliff Unit to assist.

A Dun Laoghaire coastguard volunteer reached the woman, who had found herself stuck some 30 feet from the cliff base, and made her comfortable until Rescue 116 prepared their winch man to lower her to the beach below. No injuries were reported.

Published in Rescue

#Coastguard - Sligo’s Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 is involved in an ongoing multi-agency search for a diver missing since yesterday afternoon (12 August) off the Donegal coast.

According to TheJournal.ie, the man was part of a group diving wrecks north of Fanad when he disappeared and his colleagues raised the alarm.

Searching resumed this morning (Sunday 13 August) in tandem with Lough Swilly RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat and a number of local vessels.

In other recent coastguard news, Rescue 118 was tasked on Thursday (11 August) to the rescue of a canoeist stranded in the water for four hours in Lough Conn, as The Irish Times reports.

The alarm was raised by two children shortly after they had gone out on the canoe with the man, and managed to swim back to shore after they ended up in the water.

After an exhaustive search of the lough in fading light, the man was found around 10pm and recovered with signs of mild hypothermia – though a coastguard member said his condition could have been worse if the incident occurred in colder conditions.

Thursday (10 August) also saw two callouts for the Irish Coast Guard’s Achill Island unit, the first of which was to a casualty who had fallen from a horse on Keel sandy banks.

Due to the suspected serious nature of the injuries, Rescue 118 was dispatched from its Sligo base to airlift the casualty to hospital.

Meanwhile, the Achill unit assisted paramedics in preparing the casualty for the airlift as well as preparing and securing a landing site for the helicopter.

The second callout was to assist the same National Ambulance Service crew when they were tasked to a suspected stroke.

Again the team assisted packaging the casualty and preparing and securing the GAA pitch in Achill Sound for the Irish Air Corps’ Medevac 112 HEMS helicopter.

Elsewhere, the Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 was tasked on Wednesday (9 August) for a medevac from Great Blasket Island.

The patient had to be winched on board the helicopter via a stretcher lift due to the rugged terrain that prevented a landing, before being flown to Tralee University Hospital for treatment.

And previously, Killaloe Coast Guard was tasked last Saturday afternoon (5 August) to assist a jet ski that had broken down on Lough Derg.

A safety vessel from UL Activity Centre which was on exercise in the area had taken the personal water craft in tow until the coastguard crew arrived. The jet ski was then taken back to Ballina slip where it was removed from the water.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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